THERE has been a change at the head of Malvern Hills District Council, with a new chairman taking the reins.

Cllr Dean Clarke stepped down at the annual meeting of the council this week, with former Mayor of Malvern Cllr Cynthia Palmer being chosen in his place.

In his outgoing remarks, Cllr Clarke thanked the leaders of the council’s groups, the officers and individual councillors for their help over his two years in the role.

He also thanked his wife Pat for her support throughout.

Nominating Cllr Palmer for the role, Cllr Mick Davies said: “She comes with a fresh and independent view of our venerable organisation and I know she has a heart and soul she will devote to this job.”

The nomination was seconded by Cllr Beverley Nielsen, calling her a “ubiquitous and much-loved figure” in the town.

Conservative councillor Jeremy Owenson called for a “non-political” choice as chair, saying the opposition has a tradition of having at least one year as chair.

He nominated former leader Cllr David Chambers for the role, with Cllr Bronwen Behan seconding the proposal.

Cllr Palmer was elected by the council with 25 voting in favour, 12 against and with one abstention.

Cllr Caroline Bovey will serve as vice chair.

In addition, Cllr Sarah Rouse, who has been leader since 2019, is staying on for what will be her third year in a row as leader of Malvern Hills District Council.

She was put forward to continue in the role by Cllr Tom Wells and seconded by Cllr John Raine.

Cllr Tom Wells will continue to serve as deputy leader.

Cllr Rouse said: “Being leader at MHDC is one of my proudest achievements. I take the responsibility of delivering the best services we can and improving lives very seriously.

“Without the support of amazing group of independent and green councillors it would have been impossible to keep going through the pandemic, so I thank all councillors and officers , they have been amazing .

"Over the last two years we have all struggled, but out of covid comes a strengthened sense of community.

“My focus now is to deliver economic recovery with a focus on skills and training, to keep going the renewed community spirit and help all residents recover from this pandemic.

“I will continue to work with all councillors who wish to engage with the council’s work across all parties. Covid recovery is a team effort and I am humbled to be able to lead this council at this time.”